Top Tight Ends in NFL Draft: Brycen Hopkins

Bill Huber

Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins is our No. 4-ranked tight end.

Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins is the son of former NFL All-Pro offensive lineman Brad Hopkins. Basketball, however, was his first love.

“I was a hooper. I was going into the league,” Hopkins joked at the Scouting Combine.

Hopkins only played football for two years in high school. It was basketball, however, that got him noticed by recruiters. “He drove the baseline and just ripped the rim off the hinges, almost. I was like, ‘There you go,’” former Purdue recruiting coordinator Gerad Parker said.

Video: Hear from Hopkins at the Scouting Combine

Hopkins slowly built himself into a legit prospect. He went from 10 catches as a freshman to 25 as a sophomore to 34 as a junior. A full-time starter for the first time as a senior, Hopkins earned some All-American honors and was voted the Big Ten’s Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year. He recorded 61 receptions for 830 yards and seven touchdowns. His reception and yardage totals were the most by a Boilermakers tight end since Dustin Keller had 68 receptions for 881 yards in 2007.

“I don’t want to say it was unexpected, but it was unexpected,” he said. “At the same time, I thought I had the potential to be here but I wasn’t sure how much of a shot I was going to get. So, I appreciate Coach (Jeff) Brohm really exposing me in that way and allowed me to get that exposure in order to make the plays and have the opportunity to be here. Like I said, it was unexpected, but I’m here and I’m going to take advantage of it.”

What we like

At 6-foot-3 7/8 and 245 pounds, he ran his 40 in 4.66 seconds. He plays fast, has a great feel for the passing game and has a knack for contested-catch situations with a 55.6 percent catch rate that’s the second-best in the draft class. “It wasn’t until late in my college career that I actually built the confidence in myself to know that maybe I had a shot to play at this level,” Hopkins said. “Once I built my confidence at the college level, I really started to notice that I might be a little different than most tight ends out there and that I might have the ability to play at the next level.”

What we don’t like

Even with 10 1/8-inch hands, Hopkins dropped eight passes as a senior. His 11.1 percent drop rate was the third-worst of our top 17 tight ends. He went 10.17 catches between broken tackles. For comparison, Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant averaged 5.42 and Dayton’s Adam Trautman averaged 5.83. While his dad was a standout blocker, his son is not.

Bill Huber’s Tight End Profiles

No. 1: Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet

No. 2: Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant

No. 3: Dayton’s Adam Trautman

No. 4: Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins

No. 5: Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam

Nos. 6-14: The Best of the Rest

SI.com: Which School is Tight End U.?

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